Strengthened Immune System
Yoga stimulates the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system (as opposed to the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system). Deep relaxation strengthens the body’s immune system, allowing it to fight off bacteria and viruses quickly and easily. A regular practice will increase your body’s ability to release toxins from the organs, which will strengthen your immune system even more.
Yoga reduces stress, releases tight muscles, and brings the body into balance. These benefits not only help you sleep better, but they result in reduced fatigue and increased energy throughout the day. Yogis believe the practice activates and balances their energy centers (“chakras” in Sanskrit), allowing the life force (“prana” in Sanskrit) to flow freely throughout their bodies, increasing overall vitality.
The poses practiced in yoga utilize various muscles and movements that promote balance throughout the body. Physical balance increases your stability and coordination, which can help reduce the risk of injury. Being “balanced” also refers to the state of equilibrium that your body can regain and maintain with regular yoga practice. When your internal systems are working together and are in balance, greater health can be achieved.
Normalized Digestion & Weight
Yoga’s combination of physical exercise and stress-reduction techniques help to balance the functionality of the entire digestive system. All styles of yoga reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, while burning extra calories. Certain poses help to improve gastrointestinal functions and detoxification as well. Regular practice can also encourage insulin production, which can help prevent Type II Diabetes.
In addition, yoga encourages mindful eating habits, helping practitioners to choose healthy foods that promote well-being and healthy weight.
Relief from Pain
Yoga has been demonstrated to be effective in easing back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches. A regular practice has also been shown to reduce discomfort felt by victims of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases. Therapeutic and restorative styles of yoga can reduce, and even eliminate, chronic pain.
Improved Athletic Performance
Athletic styles of yoga, like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, and Power Yoga, can improve your endurance. These vigorous disciplines work the entire body and require mental and physical strength to stay in motion between the poses. Despite being a strenuous workout, yoga carries a low risk of injury due to its emphasis on precise alignment and technique. Because of this, athletes can greatly benefit by cross-training with yoga.
Increased Bone Density
Yoga uses your body weight to build strength. This type of weight-bearing exercise improves your bone density, which helps to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. By reducing stress levels, yoga also lessens the body’s production of cortisol (stress hormone), which can leach calcium from the bones. Additionally, yoga’s emphasis on alignment and balance can lead to better skeletal alignment.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
All types of yoga are great for your heart! Regular practice lowers your heart rate and decreases blood pressure. Moving through asanas strengthens your heart muscle, which helps it pump blood with more efficiency and with greater amounts of oxygen. Improved cardiovascular health can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease.
Improved Respiratory Health
The pranayama in yoga teach you to breathe deeply and more slowly. This improves the function of the lungs while increasing the amount of oxygen taken in with each breath. As the lungs work more efficiently, many practitioners find relief from asthma, stress, and fatigue.